While at work last evening as I was getting ready to move my truck from the parking lot to the front of the school, an elderly gentleman approached me. I found out that he knew quite a few of the people I remember from my childhood living in Shepherdstown, WV.
He said he was raised Catholic and went to St. Joseph's school in our area. I told him my father was an Assembly of God pastor when I was a child. He said that during his life he had worked for the Atomic Energy Commission and now owned a farm of 180 acres outside of Shepherdstown.
He spoke of the various civic and private organizations to which he belonged and I did the same. He was Knights Of Columbus and I was a 32 degree Mason while living in Maryland around 200 years ago, it seems!! He belonged to the Moose, as did I in my younger years and contributed to charities in the area, as have I.
I felt the Spirit lead me to watch this elderly gentleman in the large side mirror as he seemed to wonder off into years gone by with a far away look in his eyes. He smelled slightly of alcohol, needed a shave, his hair was messed up and he seemed to get confused in conversation.
My break time had long passed but I continued to listen to him talk. He spoke of buying log cabins as a younger man, tearing them down and reselling them at a huge profit to people coming up from the Metro area. A 2,000 dollar cabin sold for 18,000 dollars. Another one traded for two lots on the ocean on a North Carolina barrier island, on which he built an A-Frame home and sold it for over 1 million dollars.
I also, as did he, owned a lot on a barrier island in North Carolina years ago. The lot I purchased for 12,000 dollars were selling for 80 to 100 thousand dollars several years ago.
What was so profound about the encounter with this gentleman were the similarities in our lives. There stood a man that represented what I used to think was a total success in this life. He knew the right people, was at the right spot at the right time, caught all of the right breaks and made bundles of money. His children went to ivy league schools and as far as looking at things from a Capitalist's point of view he had finally reached the American Dream.
But, looking deep into his eyes as he talked I saw a hopelessness, a lostness that all of these things, all of the memberships, all of these friends had not given him. The Holy Spirit brought this man across my path to show me that, after all, I had made the right decisions, because God was with me all of the way.
I thank God that I have had to struggle most of the time even though I had a fantastic income with the US Government. My climb to the top of the ladder cost several marriages and years of travel, stress and tension. I thank God that He has always given me, even when living in rebellion, just what I needed all of the time. I never had much excess to invest or waste. God did not give me what I wanted, and I now thank Him that He did not do that, but He gave me what I needed; always. Even several knocks upside the head from time to time!
The contrast the other evening was profound. Here was a man who was exactly what I had been striving to be; membership in organizations populated with politicians, doctors and lawyers, several millions of dollars once was in my mind, a large farm in a prosperous area of the nation, and time to kill. But here I was now, just a little younger than this man, taking a break from work talking to him for so long that I should have been fired. Here I was, counting the weeks and depending upon my main source of income the first of each month, working as a custodian at a local school.
But! I had the peace of God all during the conversation with this fellow. He needed alcohol, memories and someone, just anyone to talk to. The chance to speak of Christ did not arise. I was waiting for the chance. I know that this encounter was a lesson, a reminder from the LORD that I have made the right decisions in life by coming back to Him and seeking Him. That He has been with me all of the way. That my being at the top of the ladder of success in the past, and now working with the overworked, underpaid and underemployed is also a very important lesson I need to learn in this life.
No matter the encounter, no matter the issues we face, no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, whether good or bad, we can know that we know that He is in total control. Like King David said, I would rather be a door keeper in the house of God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
And as David also said after he had lived most of his life and was looking back at the trials, tribulations, successes and failures, "it has been good for me!"
Have a wonderful Sabbath thinking upon Him!